NORMAN, Okla.-The University of Alabama volleyball team (1-0, 0-0) won its season opener on the road against Seton Hall, 3-1, tonight at the McCasland Field House in the first match of the OU Sooner Legends/Nike Invitational. Tonight’s match marks the first road win for the Tide in a season opener since 2002.
“It was a great first match for our team,” said Alabama head coach Judy Green. “I thought we had an outstanding team defensive effort tonight and I think we are good enough to maintain that for the rest of the season.”
Alabama posted 14 team blocks with three Tide players posting double digit kills and digs. Red shirt freshman Brooks Webster led the Tide with 18 kills and 42 attempts and posted a career high eight digs. Red shirt senior Crystal Hudson also added 18 kills in 31 attempts and led the team with a .419 hitting efficiency. Junior libero Amy Pauly led the team with 17 digs, while senior Brigitte Slack dished out 52 assists.
The Crimson Tide started off strong in game one, defeating Seton Hall 30-22. Alabama’s offense was unstoppable with three Tide players hitting above .300. Hudson put in an almost flawless performance, hitting .875 with seven kills on eight attempts. The Tide also put in a good defensive effort, posting 22 digs in game one with Pauly and Webster leading the pack with five digs a piece.
“In the first game we came out strong and everyone was excited to get into competition,” said Green. “In the second game Seton Hall stepped up their level and it took our team a little while to react to that. One of our goals is to become more consistent from game to game in order to avoid those mental lapses.”
Game two saw the momentum change to Seton Hall as the Pirates held the Tide to a .114 hitting percentage in the losing effort. However, Alabama rebounded in game three and outlasted Seton Hall, 30-28. The Tide led most of the match but the Pirates were close behind. With Alabama at game point, Seton Hall scored four unanswered points to bring the Pirates within two. However, the Tide did not back down and a kill by Webster finished the game to put Alabama ahead three games to one.
In game four, the Tide out hit the Pirates .410 to .167. Slack served three unanswered points late in the game to give Alabama a commanding 19-13 lead. Alabama never looked back and outlasted Seton Hall 30-20. The Tide out hit the Pirates .410 to .167 in the victory.
“The team came out with the mentality that they were going to play better in game four than in game three,” said Green. “We passed the ball extremely well and our middles did a nice job making themselves available in transition.”
“We were very flexible tonight in some of the things we did and the players handled that very well,” said Green. “I was proud of our team and I was proud of the way they battled back took care of one game at a time.”
Alabama returns to action tomorrow at noon to take on Denver at the McCasland Field House. The Tide wraps up the tournament with No. 22 Oklahoma at 7:00 p.m. in the tournament finale.